Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Support for Ryan

We are having a 4th of July bash this weekend. It's Ryan's birthday and we thought it would be a good opportunity to give him a send-off into the mil*tary. Since we are moving in a few weeks, we wanted to give friends a chance to say good-bye before Ryan heads off to bo*t camp. (I have to use the * to prevent creepy people from doing a Google search.)

I invited our friends and family to bring a note of encouragement for Ryan that I will compile and put into a book for him to take with him. Since many may not know a soldier, I wanted to open it up to those of you who read the blog. If you would like to send Ryan a word of encouragement, advice, or your favorite Bible verse, it would mean so much to us. You can leave it in the comment section and I will print them out and put them in the book for him.

Our families have been struggling--all of us in different ways--with him joining the mil*tary. Of course, we are proud of him, but we also know that he has been told that he will most certainly be depl*yed to 'the desert' at some point. It's scary. I have to hang on to what I believe...that Ryan's life is in God's hands and all of his days have been written. God will hold him safe until it is his pre-ordained time to go.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Fireflies and fireworks

Anyone who knows me know that I love the 4th of July and anything patriotic. One friend dubbed me a 'patriotic nerd' and I guess that is true. :) Our town had their fireworks on Saturday night, so we went early, got a great spot and sat down to wait for it to get dark. We took sparklers, licorice and cotton candy to occupy the kids until the show started.

Incidentally, is it really wise to hand small children little flaming sticks and tell them to 'be careful?' I mean, how wise IS that?

Since the four youngest kids are terrified of thunder, we weren't sure how the fireworks show would be received. Big brother Taylor, aka pyro-boy, has initiated them somewhat with firecrackers, but still...

Here are the first reactions from Zoey and Kate:

"I'm having grave misgivings about this strange family tradition."

"Ohhhhhhhh....what was THAT?"

Jake, our outgoing little guy with the dizzying array of fears, did not enjoy last year's show, as reported in this post. He enjoyed his cotton candy and licorice, but when the first large firework BOOMED loudly, he spent the rest of the show like this:

At least he made it out of the car this year!

It was so fun to watch the bigger kids running around catching fireflies and watching 'their butts light up' (to borrow a phrase from Calvin and Hobbes, my all-time favorite comic strip). SaraGrace is the family professional when it comes to catching bugs. She had the largest collection of fireflies in her bug-catcher.

Everyone had fun except Jake! Maybe next year will be his year.
Last night we went to visit my dad as he convalesces at home. He said he was already bored, so we thought we would come and give him some company. My brother and his wife and kids were there, so we all had a good time.

How adorable is this little guy?

I'm not sure I want to know what these two were cooking up.

My mom gave all the kids an ice cream cone--ice cream with chocolate chunks in it--because she doesn't have to do their laundry. hee

Friday, June 26, 2009

Summer Yummies

Strawberry shortcake....mmmmm...nothing says summer like this yummy dessert. The kids had various ways of enjoying it.

My dad's surgery

My dad's surgery went well and the doctor was encouraged. They 'froze' everything they saw and the doctor is hopeful that it will be successful in stopping the cancer. Cryosurgery has a very good success rate so far. We are so thankful that my dad was able to have this treatment.

Random Acts of Kindness in honor of orphaned children

Random Acts of Kindness Day is Coming!

Love Without Boundaries
is issuing a challenge to help spread the word about orphans in need, while doing an act of kindness for another person.

From their blog:
A few months ago, a friend of mine told me about how she and her kids loved doing "random acts of kindness" in order to foster a love of giving. We thought her idea was so great that we have decided to promote it every quarter. On July 1st, we encourage you to do one random act of kindness in order to spread goodwill to others, and also to remind people that millions of children around the world live each day as orphans.

To take part, here is what you should do:

Go to their blog and print off a little coupon they have supplied. Go out and do a random act of kindness, like paying the toll for someone behind you in line at a toll booth, or buy a cup of coffee for someone in line behind you at Starbucks.

Have fun!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The dentist

Taylor and I had dentist appointments today. I had scheduled them six months ago, thinking that since it was summer, Ryan would be home to babysit.

Last night at 10:00PM, I realized that Ryan would be out of town and that meant.... (insert scary music)...I would have to take ALL.OF.THE.KIDS. with me to the dentist. Our dentist appointments were both at the same time, so it wasn't even possible for Taylor and I to take turns watching them in the waiting room.

I would be taking N.I.N.E. kids with me to the dentist. Could any thought be more dreadful? I had visions of them running around terrorizing the office staff while I lay incapacitated in the dentist chair.

I gave them pizza for lunch before realizing that the three youngest ones were going to cover themselves in pizza sauce right before we left. urgh. Out came the bibs, and I told them not to wipe pizza sauce on their shirts. They took this very seriously. When I was cleaning them up, I noticed that all of them had pizza sauce on the BACK of their shirts. They all sit in a row at the table and apparently, they chose to wipe pizza sauce on the shirt of the person NEXT to them.

We didn't have time to change, so off we went, pizza sauce and all. The eyes of the receptionist got very large as we all came straggling in. I had given the kids a little talk before we got there, explaining that they had to be quiet since people actually WORK there and couldn't make phone calls with kids running around screaming. They all nodded solemnly and promised to be quiet.

And you know what? They were! (Although Jillian made some minor complaints about Jake.) I had worried all for nothing. Jillian stayed in the waiting room with four of the kids, and Molly, Zoey and Kate came with me. Molly read some books to the little girls and they were perfect. Toward the end, Zoey came over and watched what was happening in my mouth. She got about three inches from my face--it was so cute.

While I was getting x-ray's, the girls had to step out. While in the hallway, someone asked Molly if Zoey and Kate were her sisters. Molly said, 'Yes, but I have WAY more than this! If you want to see them, you can go out to the waiting room. They're all out there."

Oh my goodness...I was cracking up! So was the girl who was doing my teeth.

I swung by McDonalds on the way home to get them all ice cream since they had been so good. It was a surprisingly good end to a very exasperating week.

Kate developed diarrhea. While potty-training. While wearing underwear. As everyone knows, underwear will not hold an explosive blast. After one disgusting mess, I switched to Pull-ups because I'm smart that way. ha. Guess what? Pull-ups don't hold explosive blasts either.

Here is a statement you never want to hear...
"Mom! Mom! Kate pooped on the floor and I stepped in it!" This statement is made by a child who is running upstairs to tell me.

"Did you wash your feet before you ran all the way up here?"

Kate and Jake also have not grasped the concept that one must WIPE before sliding off the seat. Don't want to get too graphic...so hope you follow that. Let's just say, I've cleaned up more smears that I care to count because as I am coming in to wipe them, they excitedly slide off, in a huge hurry to collect their M & M prize. The other day, Kate snuck upstairs to do her deed and came down to tell me. Only she got tired of walking down the stairs and half way down, she sat so that she could butt-bounce the rest of the way down. With lots of um...you know...poop on her bum. Well, there wasn't any on her bum by the time she got to the bottom because she had deposited some on each step. You don't want to know how long it took me to scrub that.

Oh... and the dog got into the act, too. She got sick on something that she probably stole out of the garbage. Why can't dogs barf all in one spot? Noooo...they need a separate spot for each heave, which meant there were three disgusting areas for me to scrub.

The other day when we returned from our fun trip to Gre*nfield Village, it was dinner time. Everyone was hungry and of course I hadn't thought ahead to put something in the crock-pot. Jake had held his pee all day because he can only 'go' on his home turf. Alas, he fell asleep the last half hour of the trip and soaked himself and his carseat. He was literally DRIPPING when I lifted him out...all sleepy and grumpy that I had awakened him. The kids were hungry and whining and Jeff was out of town. As our whiny, hot, tired and bedraggled entourage entered the house, I was greeted by garbage strewn across the kitchen floor. Culprit? The dog. URGH. As I stood there surveying the mess and feeling overwhelmed, Jillian ran up to her room for something and came down yelling.

"Mom! The dog peed on our bed!!!"

Energy that I didn't know I still possessed, surged through me as I ran upstairs to check on the latest tragedy. Sure enough. There was a big yellow spot that had soaked almost through to the mattress. (Insert very angry feelings) Apparently, there had been a thunder storm while we were gone and our dog--who shakes violently during thunderstorms--had lost control of her bladder muscles on the girls' bed, where she shouldn't have been sleeping in the first place.

All I can say is that the kids better remember all of this someday when I am having bladder and bowel problems in The Home for the Aged.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Frequently Asked Question

I have been getting asked a question quite often lately, and I thought I would address it on the blog in case any of you are wondering the same thing.

"How do you guys keep getting 'all these kids' when so many people we know have been waiting and waiting and waiting to adopt from China?"

That is a fair question, especially for those who are not adopting, and don't know the procedure.

There are two ways to adopt from China. There is a program called Non-special needs and this program currently has a very long wait. The other program is the special needs program, which is the one from which we have chosen to adopt.

Some are unaware of our kids' special needs (which I think is cool--that they don't even notice!). That is what I hope to convey i n this post. Kids with special needs are awesome kids and they need families. We don't even notice their special needs--and after being with them, most people don't either.

Chloe was our first child with special needs. She has a 'little foot' with three toes and her leg is shorter and will need leg lengthening in the future. People who do not know about her 'special need' are usually shocked when they find out. She is athletic and runs and plays like any other kid. She has a few extra doctor appointments with her foot and leg, but other than that--just a 'normal' kid.

SaraGrace was next and she has a heart defect. She has had one surgery and will require several more open-heart surgeries to change a valve as she grows out of it. On a daily level, she is a healthy kid (and if she had any more drama or spunk, I don't think the rest of us would survive! ha)

Jordan has microtia--which means he has an ear that didn't form. Currently he has hearing in one ear. When he is six or seven, he will be fitted with a prosthetic ear but we don't know if he will ever have hearing in that ear. Daily--no additional care needed--we just need to be careful that he doesn't get an ear infection in his good ear.

Jacob was born with an extra finger on each hand. This can be part of a syndrome, but in his case, it doesn't seem to be. His extra fingers were removed and his only special need is that he is extraordinarily cute and hilarious. hehe

Kate--as you know if you've been reading this blog for very long--has a heart defect and has received her surgery. She will need a heart transplant in 20-30 years unless technology figures out a way to pump blood through her heart in a more effective way. Daily--just some medication and we have to be careful that she doesn't injure herself due to bruising easily--no big deal.

Zoey has a 'little foot' like Chloe--although hers is much more severe as she is missing her ankle bone. She is facing lots of surgeries OR a foot amputation.

None of these smiling, amazing kids are anything but WONDERFUL!! It makes my heart ache to think that someone might not think they have as much value as a 'normal' kid. I know how great they are and I hope that others will see the same and consider opening their hearts to a child with special needs. There are SO many kids waiting. Our lives have been so enriched to have these precious kids in our family. I can't imagine our lives without them! They are such a blessing.

Update on My Dad

My dad just called. Obviously, he wasn't in surgery. :) He had been all ready to go, IV in place and then the doctor came in and said that the machine they needed had been delivered to the wrong hospital. Oops! Surgery has been rescheduled for Friday. My dad was laughing and said that lately, God keeps bringing him to the precipice and then changing directions (India, surgery, etc.).

The two day delay was actually a blessing because it enables him to attend the funeral of a dear member of their church.

It's all Good. It's all God.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It poured rain the other day and soaked our sandbox. The next day, Jake ran out to play and Jeff and I completely forgot the state of the sandbox. A few minutes later, we called the kids in for dinner and Jake came running in, covered in sand. We quickly escorted him back out to try to clean him off. It soon became apparent that a hose was going to be needed due to the quantity of sand stuck to his body.

...sand stuck to his bum...

...sand stuck to his leg

Jeff hoses him down

His cute little footprints on the deck steps
Some of the flowers that are blooming in our yard. I love summer!!

My Dad

Wednesday morning, my dad is having cryosurgery for prostate cancer. We would so appreciate prayers for a good outcome and a fast recovery. Cryosurgery is a relatively new procedure and we are so thankful that he is able to have it. In fact, a very good friend of his who lives in Canada needs cryosurgery but it is not offered in Canada. He would have to come to the US and pay for it out of his own pocket. The only option in Canada is a surgery with many more side-effects. We have amazing options in the US! It is something to be truly thankful for--and not to take for granted.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Freaky-looking moth

Last night I was up late waiting for Ryan to return from his mission trip. The front porch lights were on, and I could see through the front door sidelights. There were lots of bugs flying around but then I saw a thing that looked like a small bird. Or maybe it was a bat? In fascination, I went to look out the window and watched it swooping and flying around the porch. Then it landed. Most of it's body was out of my line of vision, but I could see a tip of it and it was lime green! Ewwwww....

Just then, Taylor came downstairs and was equally fascinated. He decided to get a box and try to catch it. He found a box that had a clear lid, so when he trapped the *thing* in the box, we could see it clearly--well, that is when it wasn't flapping around hysterically in the box. After it got tired, I got a few pictures of it. It had a four inch wingspan! We looked it up on the Internet and found that it was a Luna Moth. They are not rare, but they are rarely seen. Yah...I have never seen one in my entire life!

It was pretty--in an odd-mothy sort of way. It kept Taylor and I entertained for quite awhile until Ryan came home.

It's oh-so-very-good to have Ryan back in the nest!!

And speaking of Ryan....a Memorial Box Monday post:

The week he was leaving for his mission trip, he was supposed to go get a physical for the milit*ry. When signing up, he was allowed to choose the type of training that he wanted. He had found something that was close--although not exactly what he wanted. To spot could only be held for a week, so he needed the physical done before leaving for the mission trip. Well...there was a mix-up. Due to that, he was unable to get the physical--hence the job training spot could not be held for him. He was disappointed but said, "Well, maybe there will be something better for me when I get back." I love that boy. :) And we did have such a peace that God was in control, and that when Ryan got back, there would be a spot for him that would be where God wanted him.

Today, he and Jeff went to choose another training spot. This time, he was able to find something better--and more to his liking--AND....he will be stationed in a different location that is MUCH closer to where we will be living in Boston. It's still a bit of a hike, but it's drivable and means we will be able to see him for the time that he is living there. We are so excited!! God knew...and we believe He orchestrated the 'mix-up' to get Ryan where He wanted him.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day!

Jeff and his treasures... (Ryan is on his way home from his mission trip)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"A Crummy Commercial..."

If you are a fan of "A Chr*stmas Story," you will recognize that line. If not, just disregard because it would take too long to explain.

The following will be a pictorial commercial for Greenfield Vill*ge in Dearborn, MI. We went there yesterday with my mom and it is the coolest place. If you are going to be anywhere near this attraction, I highly recommend a visit. My dad kindly paid for a Grandparent membership which gets all the grandchildren in free for a year. We had so much fun! Amazingly, even though it was V.E.R.Y. humid, none of the kids whined the entire day. I wish I could say the same for Mommy, who got very dehydrated and grumpy for awhile until a frozen custard replenished my falling electrolytes. hee

At the entrance and all ready to have some fun! Two double strollers help carry kids and backpacks.

First activity of the day is to ride the Omnibus!

Looking out the window of the Omnibus

One of MANY cool buildings that include the homes of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers bicycle shop, the court house where Abraham Lincoln's practiced in Illinois, etc.

We had lunch there where the favorite entree of choice is the 'hobo lunch.' It is served inside a bandana with a stick through it so the kids can carry it over their shoulders. I'm sure you can imagine what happened with the sticks after lunch was over. (hint: thwack, whack, poke, and the discovery of many other ways to bother those around you) I'm sure it will come as a great shock to know that Jake was the worst (but cute!) offender.

Playing games in the town square--reminiscent of days gone by

"Ding, ding, ding! Time for school!"

Jillian and Molly get a lesson on their times tables at the one-room schoolhouse

Chloe writes her alphabet on an old-fashioned slate. Jake attended the class but I'm sorry to say that he only wanted to explore the room with his stick. He spent the entire time poking things, thwacking things, and sticking it out the windows (which were made all the more enticing by their lack of screens and glass)

Jake continues to be totally mezmerized by his cool stick

Everyone but Jake (and Mommy, who gets motion sick), rode the Merry-go-round

Then it was time for a treat break...

The big girls wanted Whirl-a-pops

The little kids (and Mommy and Grandma) opted for yummy frozen custard...

In lieu of a mini-van, Grandma and the majority of the kids try...

...an early model station wagon

We rode in a Model T

In honor of the 100 Year Anniversary of the Model T, a race is being re-enacted from New York to Seattle. Model T's from all 50 States are represented, as well as a few from other countries. The day we were there, the cars had stopped at the Village for a few hours and we had the privilege of seeing them!

Waving at the parade of Model T's as they left for the next leg of their journey to Seattle.

"Mom...dat is da too-too twain!"

The train was our last activity of the day, which was a good thing because it started raining. We had a great day and made lots of fun memories with Grandma!

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Sprinkler

Yesterday, we introduced Zoey and Kate to the fun of playing in the sprinkler. It was hot and humid, so it was a perfect day for it.

"Why is water pouring out of this thing in the yard?"

"Ohhhhh...I LIKE this!"

Zoey was all over this idea.

She had no fear, and was quickly soaked from head to toe.

Jake skirted the perimeter of the water spray.

He tried to work up his courage, but remained mostly dry.

Chloe hit the spray

Big brother showed up with water balloons and with a command for Mom to stop taking pictures of him. hee

Wheee....havin' fun!

Still dry, but looking cute.

Jordan had tons o' fun